Bad weather forces US first lady to cancel Jordan visit

Sandstorms and repeated floods plague Jordan, Israel, Iraq and Egypt.

    Bad weather forces US first lady to cancel Jordan visit
    Miserable weather conditions persisted in refugee camps outside Baghdad after heavy rain [EPA]

    Michelle Obama, the United States' first lady, was due to visit Jordan on Wednesday but had her flight delayed.

    This was "due to a weather call", and finally, 36-hours later, the visit was cancelled.

    Jordan, Israel and Iraq have suffered sandstorms, followed by heavy rain and resultant flooding.

    Amman was still recovering from the severe sandstorm of Wednesday when the rain hit on Thursday morning, causing chaos in some areas of the city.

    Mohammed Zreigat, a local resident said: "This weather is abnormal for the country. It's an unusual phenomenon, heavy dust, rainfall laden with mud; this weather causes illnesses in the community. This is the first time we have seen this in the country."

    The storm in Amman lasted only 40 minutes, but it was enough to overwhelm the city's sewer system and leave motorists stranded in rising floodwaters. 

    Homes were also flooded, in many cases, too quickly for residents to react.

    The flooding killed two Egyptian children, six and 12 years old, according to the local state news agency.

    As the rain spread from Jordan to Iraq, Baghdad had its second day of floods in less than two weeks; 58 Iraqis died of electrocution during heavy rains and flooding last week.

    The sewer system was overwhelmed by several days of downpours, leading to widespread flooding in Baghdad and elsewhere in the country.

    As more rain fell on Thursday, the electricity ministry issued a warning for citizens to "be careful with the distribution networks that include wires, poles and transformers".

    Because government provided power falls far short of demand, many streets in Iraq are crisscrossed by spiderwebs of dozens of haphazardly strung wires, linking homes and shops to private generators.

    The sandstorm and heavy rain have now left Jordan and are leaving eastern Iraq for Iran. Egypt, on the other hand, has no such luck: 100mm of rain has fallen on Alexandria on the northern shores of Egypt over the last three days, and it's still raining.

    This rain has caused flooding and fatalities and is the result of an area of low pressure sitting to the north of Sinai.

    At long last, this long-lived and stationary centre of low pressure is filling in. A slow improvement in weather over Alexandria seems likely this weekend.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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